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- Category: C
- Date Added: 08/04/2002
- Local Authority: Aberdeen
- Planning Authority: Aberdeen
- Burgh: Aberdeen
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NJ 93941 5957
- Coordinates: 393941, 805957
John Rust facade, 1898, retained after 1929 rebuild, extended 1931, converted to ballroom 1959 and nightclub 1976. Well detailed symmetrical 4-storey, 7-bay, classically inspired lofty granite façade fronting shell of former theatre building. Pedimented centre bays with channelled pilasters at ground flanking broken semicircular pediment over door, fluted pilasters above flank blind oculi and blind arcade also with broken centre pediment and blind tympanum at 3rd floor capped by small ogeed tablet. Outer doors surmounted by broken triangular pediments with acanthus motifs below decoratively-astragalled oculi. Granite ashlar with band courses, cornices and blocking course. Square- segmental- and round-arched openings, stone transoms and mullions, hoodmoulds with label stops. Openings largely blocked.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: principal (N) elevation with slightly advanced centre bays with keystoned segmental-arched doorpiece, outer bays with square-headed doorpieces (that to right altered?) that to left with modern door below decorative ironwork fanlight, further doorway immediately to right retains similar fanlight. Bays 2 and 6 have bipartite windows above ground, that to 2nd floor round-arched; bays 1 and 7 have taller round-arched tripartite windows between 2nd and 3rd floors. S (Crown Terrace) elevation 2-storey, 6- bay broad curvilinear gable end with crowning semicircular-arched pediment and ball finial, and paired segmentally-arched entrances to outer bays, blind doorway opening adjacent to fanlit timber-panelled door.
Some fixed-pane plate glass windows. Grey slates, lead flashing, metal ventilation cowl to ridge. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: little original interior decorative scheme remains. Small amount of moulded plasterwork cornicing, Art Deco style staircase and ironwork spiral stair survives.
Statement of Special Interest
The former Palace Theatre has an imposing granite facade. Its massive principal elevation is of particular note, adding streetscape interest to this area of Aberdeen. Opened in 1898 as the Palace Theatre, it was built to replace the former People's Palace which suffered a disastrous fire on 20 September 1896. The new fireproofed and electrically lit theatre opened on 24 October 1898. It was designed by John Rust, who had previously worked for the city authorities, and cost some £15,000. The interior "hallway was lined with Japanese paper and glazed tiles with the name 'Palace' set into a mosaic floor" (Peter) and the auditorium had seating for 1,800 over two tiers.
During its early years, performers included the young Charlie Chaplin who played here in Fred Karno's comic troupe, Harry Lauder and Dr Walford Bodie. In 1904 young Liberal MP Winston Churchill addressed a political rally at the Palace. Films were introduced in 1911, when the lease was taken over by Fred Collins, who also ran the nearby Tivoli. The theatre closed for rebuilding in 1929 after being bought by Jack Poole, "emerging in 1931 with one large balcony in an undistinguished modern interior" (Peter). By 1936 it was part of the County Cinemas circuit and later belonged to Odeon Cinemas Ltd. The interior was converted to a Top Rank Ballroom in 1959, and has been used as a nightclub since 1976.
References and Notes updated as part of the Cinemas Thematic Study 2007-08. List description further updated as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2010.
Michael Thomson, Silver Screen In The Silver City, a history of cinemas in Aberdeen, 1896-1987 (1988) p29, 46, 47, 136, 321. Bruce Peter Scotland's Splendid Theatres (1999), pp181-4. W A Brogden Aberdeen - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1998).
www.scottishcinemas.org.uk [accessed 12.11.07].
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